When Talal Bayaa came up with the idea for Bayzat, the intention was to create a solution that digitises the HR and health insurance selection process for companies. With automation taking the hassle out of most administrative paperwork, these were areas that were still relatively labour-driven.
For health insurance, Bayzat helps individuals and companies compare, buy and use their health insurance. Meanwhile, for HR, Bayzat Benefits helps companies automate all their HR admin work from data entry to managing employee records. It ensures that all HR processes are centralised, accessible and secure.
In the last six months, Bayzat released its HR platform equipped with OCR technology that extracts data directly from scans like passport copies or Emirates ID, and a fully-fledged employee record system that can be synced with existing data in Excel direct to our cloud-based system. A couple of months ago, the company updated its HR platform to include a ‘leave management’ feature as well.
Funding to fuel growth
Bayzat’s most recent funding round, of US$ 7.5 million, was in May 2017 and it deployed it towards R&D and expanding its workforce. Securing finance is one of the biggest challenges companies like Bayzat face in their growth-stage, so how did Talal manage to convince investors of the concept’s potential? “We’ve seen 350 per cent revenue growth each year and our team has expanded from 15 to 55 from 2016-17. Moreover, the new UAE laws have mandated health insurance and that means companies are increasingly turning to us to compare their insurance solutions. We focus on constant R&D and have a talented and dedicated tech team. There is also an increased awareness and budget for HR automation across UAE businesses, and overall a greater need for technological solutions across paper-dominant industries. Finally, we have a clear vision of where we’re headed,” he says.
A seasoned expert like Talal makes the process sound easy and pragmatic. But, is it all that simple? Surely there are many other factors that business owners need to consider.
“Absolutely – it’s a complex process. My advice to those seeking nance would be to know the problem you’re trying to solve better than anyone else. This means understanding the finer nuances as well as the strategic trends.
You also need to have an objective and analytical understanding of the size and scale of the problem. Be ready for rejection. You need to meet as many potential investors as possible to enable you to continuously refine and improve your pitch. Most will say no, but that’s how you improve. If someone is not interested, make sure you ask them a lot of questions to see what you can learn from the rejection – and don’t take it personally. Finally, be yourself. Starting and growing a company is a monumental task, so you need to have partners who have the same values you do; otherwise, you’ll just make things harder on yourself than they already are. Don’t tell investors only what they want to hear, the process should be a healthy debate so that both parties can learn from one another and gauge the chemistry,” he shares.
Dealing with operational setbacks
Given the rapid pace at which Bayzat is growing, it is sure to face minor operational challenges. The company is coming to terms with scaling up its operations while maintaining the quality of outcome. “Dealing with the large volume of requests across all our channels, particularly with DHA’s deadline on mandatory health insurance gave us a good exercise for analysing our workforce projection. The number of calls, requests, e-mails, social media messages, etc. need to be managed very closely in order not to hurt customer experience even when there’s a government deadline looming,” Talal opens up.
While this minor hurdle didn’t negatively impact the business, it made Talal conscious of the fact that if he failed to meet demand the user experience would get hurt.
Given the amount of forewarning he had with regards to the law, he adjusted and increased his workforce in anticipation.
Talal and his team came up with a practical solution to the challenge. “We analysed the situation internally, reviewed how fast our pool of clients was growing, assessed where our improvement points lie (and underlying reasons), before considering recruitment and sought ways to automate some of our administrative work to give our team more time to answer questions and assist clients.”
The dynamic entrepreneur is also continually making improvements to achieve his productivity goals. “Automation is crucial to alleviating the pressure of remedial/repetitive work and giving your workforce more time to develop their skills and contribute to business growth. We were quick to automate our HR processes, account management and sales force to give them more time to focus on our customers.”
Staying abreast competition and technology
The technology underlying Bayzat’s platform is essentially what makes it powerful – and unique in the market. But, as competitors build up robust systems to get ahead, how is Talal planning to keep up? “Our technology, customer centricity, and expertise mark us from other competitors. We are fiercely loyal to our customers and strive to deliver healthcare plans that fit their circumstances, are tailored to their needs, and in digestible formats, they can easily access and understand. All our technological pursuits are with the aim of streamlining the process and making HR/health insurance manageable.”
What does the future of the ‘insurtech’ industry look like? “While it’s happened quite rapidly in the western world, I think that over the next few years automation is going to explode. More and more industries will look to streamline their businesses through automation across all department. This holds especially true for HR and healthcare,” he quips.
Talal has a clear plan in terms of exploiting the industry’s potential. He explains: “Before we expand into other areas of the MENA region, we want to cure the problems we continue to face in insurance and HR in the UAE. Through technology, we are innovating and looking for new ways to disrupt these predominantly paper-based industries – so our short-term plans are R&D, and looking for any software updates we can incorporate into our platform that will make the lives of our users easier. Once we’ve added more technological notches to our belt, we’ll move into other areas of the Gulf.”
He further adds: “Being proactive and asking questions. The technological landscape is changing every day – it’s crucial to stay on top of it, and to always be on the lookout for potential amplification activity that could hinder or benefit your platform. I think it’s the role of everyone in the company to embody this ethos for us to keep innovating and maintain our reputation as a pioneer in our industry.”
Finally, is there a lesson from his entrepreneurial journey that he would like to share with fellow business owners? “Do your research, backup your strategic decisions with data, and find new ways to solve pain points for your employees,” he advises.